Law and Disorder Radio – Chris Hedges on The Death of the Liberal Class – Economic Analysis with Rick Wolff – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio


 
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 Chris Hedges – The Death of the Liberal Class

We are pleased to have with us returning guest Chris Hedges. We talk with him about his new book The Death of the Liberal ClassThis scathing narrative cuts to heart of how the corporate state has claimed the liberal class as one of its victims. Chris calls the liberal class ineffectual and out of touch with reality by not acknowledging that corporations have wrested power from citizens. The death of the liberal class means there is no check to a corporate apparatus designed to enrich a tiny elite that plunder the nation. The book lists the pillars of the liberal class that have been bought off with corporate money such as the media, the church, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts, and labor unions. Chris describes these harsh realities and sets them against the functions of a healthy liberal class in a traditional democracy. Chris Hedges articles.

 

 

Chris Hedges:

  • The pillars of liberal establishment, liberal religious institutions, labor, public education, esp. public universities, culture, the press and finally the Democratic Party, which made incremental or piecemeal reform possible – which watched out for the interest and the grievances of those outside of the narrow power elite – no longer function.
  • The term neoliberalism is a reconfiguring of what it means to be a liberal in a democratic society.
  • We have figures like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Pelosi and others that continue to speak in those values but betrayed everyone of those values.
  • The subservience to Wall Street, the slavish catering to the permanent war economy, the failure to defend basic civil liberties, including habaes corpus. All of these have been embraced so that a liberal is ultimately on the core structural issues indistinguishable from a conservative.
  • The liberal class and liberal institutions are traditionally allowed to function in a capitalist democracy because when there is a crisis within the society the perform a formal channel or mechanism within power structure in which injustices can be alleviated.
  • The New Deal: perfect example of how the liberal class functions.
  • They have corporatized all of the pillars of the liberal establishment.
  • What kept the liberal class honest were these populist movements which held fast to moral imperatives.
  • Everything shifts in American society because you enter a culture of permanent war psychosis.
  • With the gradual coup, the corporations have carried out in the United States beginning with Reagan, accelerated by Clinton and Bush, and certainly further by Obama, we’re left powerless, we have no mechanism to fight back.
  • They understood that people were not moved to act primarily by fact or reason but could be manipulated through emotion. This is the result, we live in a society utterly saturated with lies.
  • The liberal class has been reduced the status of courtiers.
  • The corporate state is rapidly reconfiguring society into a form of neo-feudalism, where you have these speculators on Wall Street earning $900,000 an hour, where you have families of four barely able to feed and sustain themselves and forget the ability to pay medical bills.
  • The elite institutions of education which charge astronomical sums essentially provide education for the elite, while we gut public education.
  • People are trained to work as cogs in the corporate structure. Inner city schools are turned into boot camps, that’s what charter schools are about, along with the ability to break teacher’s unions.
  • Everybody has there place, it solidifies a caste system. There’s no hope for escape. We are fed endless stories of few exceptions, to somehow make us think that we’re responsible for our own predicament.
  • It’s one of the most vicious things that have been visited upon the working class.
  • The liberal class is tolerated by the power elite because it castigated radicals. The figure that liberals hate most is not Glenn Beck, it’s Noam Chomsky because he calls out their cooperation with the power elite.
  • When the liberal class is discarded, that is how we can stand by passively as 3 million people are forced from their homes, through foreclosures and bank repossessions last year, and another 3 million this year and do nothing.
  • As these grievances mount, there is no mechanism within the structures of power or traditional institutions by which these injustices can be ameliorated.
  • They become expressed in these very frightening proto-fascist movements, such as the Tea Party or demagogues like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin who give legitimacy to this anger, rage and sense of betrayal.
  • Part of their anger is directed at government and cleverly deflected away from Wall Street but at liberals. Not wrongly, the hypocrisy of the liberal class, is readily apparent from those on low end of the economic spectrum.
  • I think we should begin to engage in acts of civil disobedience because we are the last thin line of defense between a complete collapse of society.
  • The only thing we have left are physical acts of non-violence. I think its extremely important that we stop living with the illusion that we’re going to reform the Democratic Party.

Guest – Chris Hedges, American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. His most recent book is The Death of the Liberal Class (2010)Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. A quote from the book was used as the opening title quotation in the critically-acclaimed and Academy Award-winning 2009 film, The Hurt LockerThe quote reads: “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

Federal and State Budget: Economic Analysis

We welcome returning guest Economics professor Rick Wolff. A lot of his current writing and lectures can be found at rdwolff.com. In one of his latest articles, “The Revenge of Trickle Down Economics: Differences between Democrats and Republicans”, he says both are committed to a broken, corrupt system. Rick also points out that the US government plans to spend about $3.5 trillion from the federal budget to shore up a dangerously slumped economy while collecting $2 trillion in tax revenue – which will leave a deficit of $1.5 trillion. Meanwhile the Democrats and Republicans debate over spending cuts that are around $40 to 60 billion. Rick says the debate is inconsequential when the federal budget’s projected deficit of $1.5 trillion will carry an annual interest cost of $40-60 billion. We get an update on the budget and the current economic conditions in the United States and discuss possible alternatives with Professor Rick Wolff.

Professor Rick Wolff:

  • As the government continued to borrow in record amounts never before seen except in war time, the question was never asked, if the government is borrowing like crazy how it going to manage to pay the interest costs?
  • Here we are a couple years later and the problem has arrived. The government now faces rising costs to cover this debt, to free up money, cut spending, lay off people, and cut programs. That money is given to the people who lent the money.
  • In the United States it’s mostly large corporations and wealthy individuals.
  • The money they lent to the government, let’s remember is the money the government didn’t tax from them.
  • Then you see the debate of who do you cut.
  • What’s off the table is the question of taxing the people who’ve become wealthy in the last 30 years. Who have profited from the stock market booms, and the stock market recoveries. You might say those folks owe a little bit to bail us out of a national crisis.
  • In every city, the economic crisis is the key. Unemployed people don’t earn income tax because they don’t earn income. People who are losing their houses aren’t buying very much so the sales tax goes down.
  • The governments either have to tax corporations or the rich, OR they can start cutting.
  • What you have in Wisconsin is the extreme version of that. Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, New Jersey…
  • The decision to cut is a decision taken without debating the alternative that’s available which is to tax the wealthy and the business community.
  • Taxing the rich: You’d only have to bring the taxes back to where they were, not raise them above any historic level. The greed and the power of the corporations is so obvious, that they’ve gotten not even to be debated.
  • The elected officials of this country act as if it weren’t there.
  • During WWII the corporate sector contributed 50 percent more in taxes than what individuals were asked to pay. Now, individuals pay four times more into the federal government than the entire corporate income tax.
  • All the Republicans and Democrats are debating is how much and who to cut.
  • But the decision of whether to cut is always there. The American people are finally discovering that what they thought happens elsewhere, what they thought couldn’t happen here has arrived.
  • We have two political parties performing an obvious theater that has no relevance to the actuality that they’re dealing with.
  • There is no disagreement on the larger picture which is bail out the corporations, don’t tax the rich, put the burden on the mass of people, keep borrowing like there’s no tomorrow.
  • It’s a 30-year process we’re coming to the end of, of squeezing people and moving wealth upward. When you add to that a sudden serious crisis, you’re pushing the people in the middle and the bottom over the edge.

Guest –  Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.